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Nov 27, 2012
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Nathan Grayson)
I dove back down Hotline Miami‘s blood-slick Slip ‘n’ Slide of utterly blissful brutality this weekend, and now it’s all I can think about. It’s a testament to the sheer refinement of its systems, I think, that it can so thoroughly hook me time and time again. But nothing is perfect – not even when it’s really, really close>. So Cactus and co are charging forward with a full-blown sequel. Will there be more breeds of dog? More types of dudes with cat-like shotgunning-your-face-off reflexes? Cats? Um, well, no one’s really sure yet. Oh, but it will have music! This has been – as we say in nigh-impenetrable videogame parlance – confirmed.
Developer Jonatan Söderström casually announced a Hotline Miami sequel today by teasing the "sweet tunes of a preliminary Hotline Miami 2 soundtrack" on Twitter. Eurogamer caught the tweet and got in touch with Söderström, who says that Dennaton Games has "barely begun working" on the sequel—unsurprising given that Hotline Miami was just released late last month. It also appears that the previously mentioned Hotline Miami DLC add-on will instead become the next full game from Dennaton.
"Yeah, it seems like will end up bigger—in terms of the number of levels we've got planned—than the first, so it feels reasonable to release it as a full game rather than a DLC," said Söderström.
Hotline Miami is an '80s-themed, top-down shoot/beat/rip-faces-off 'em up with Super Meat Boy-style repetition—one bullet or braining kills you, so each floor of goons must be cleaned up with a flawless series of surprise attacks and combos. We liked it quite a bit, and if for some reason you're skeptical that Hotline Miami 2 will indeed include sweet tunes, the Hotline Miami soundtrack is awfully persuasive.
Nov 21, 2012
Whether you're partial to the melancholy strains of Dear Esther, the thoughtful plinky plonky accompaniment to Indie Game: The Movie or the bluesy rawk of Shoot Many Robots, there's probably something in the latest Game Music Bundle to tickle your ears. You'll get the soundtracks mentioned above along with Spelunky and Retro City Rampage for any donation over a dollar.
If you pledge more than ten dollars you'll receive tier two of the bundle, which includes the "exclusive Joypad EP, featuring a never before heard preview from Zelda: Twilight Symphony." The excellent Hotline Miami EP, the Kanto Symphony EP, Peter Hollens and Lindsey Stirling's rendition of the Skyrim main theme, Adventures in Pixels by Ben Landis, Jottobots and Pop Methodology Experiment One OST.
That's a lot of notes for $10. You can listen to excerpts of all the tracks on offer and buy the bundle from the Game Music Bundle site now. The bundle will be available for another five and a half days.
It's almost Thanksgiving break, which means that a lot of you will be doing some traveling. And what better time to listen to delightful music than when on a plane or in the car?
The game music bundle has got you covered, with a typically great collection of soundtracks all available for as little as you want to pay. For just a buck, you can get the delightful sounds of Spelunky (though sometime we'll have to chat about that out-of-tune sax), the retro beats of Retro City Rampage, Disasterpiece's chicken pickin Shoot Many Robots soundtrack, the mournful music of Dear Esther, and Jim Guthrie's beautiful soundtrack to Indie Game: The Movie.
Go up to ten bucks, and you'll get a bunch more good stuff, including "Adventures in Pixels," and a grip of tunes from Hotline Miami, a game that easily has one of the very best game soundtracks of the year.
Good music, a good deal, and a good way to support video game composers. What's not to like?
Game Music Bundle [Official Site]
Nov 12, 2012
Hotline Miami is all about learning through repetition, then executing a perfect murder ballet.
Tyler Wilde, Associate EditorThe word "repetitive" commonly has a negative connotation, and it's especially used negatively (all the time, every time, forever and ever) when talking about games. And often it's followed by a bunch of no elaboration at all. That doesn't make sense. I'm sure I've done it before, but criticizing a game for being "too repetitive" and leaving it at that is—strictly speaking—meaningless. A game might lack variety, but every game is repetitive. We repeat some pattern of input—running and shooting, stacking blocks, bouncing balls off blue dots—over and over, and expect uniform feedback. Then the problem changes slightly, and we tweak our input pattern. And then again. And yet "too repetitive" is lobbed at games all the time.
Alright, I know that sounds a bit pedantic, and I do recognize the difference in tone between "repetition" and "repetitive." Lack of variety is a fair criticism, but "too repetitive" is an extremely vague way to say it, and it dodges the truth: when we criticize a game for being "too repetitive," I think we often mean that we just don't like what we're doing. "It's repetitive" is shorthand for "this isn't fun (for some reason)."
If we like what we're doing, repetition is desirable. I like solving puzzles in Portal, and once I solve one I want to solve more. I don't want to solve the exact same puzzle again, but I don't want to stumble into a surprise Sudoku chamber, either. So Portal gives me increasingly clever arrangements of portal-ey logic problems. The puzzles get harder, but they're all just iterations of the same basic spatial problem I solved in the first puzzle. So after all my twisty, knotty figuring arrives at a solution, it always seems just as simple as the first time. That sense of clarity comes from repetition.
Super Meat Boy replays your failures, illustrating your own learning process.
Repetition is also how we learn, and both Super Meat Boy and Hotline Miami succeed by embracing that power. They present problems in small chunks—a level in Super Meat Boy and a floor of thugs in Hotline Miami—and rapidly reset them every time we fail. Each attempt gives us new information to apply to the next, building layers of experience on the way to that one perfect run. And that perfect run feels good: it's an accomplishment, like unknotting an especially tricky puzzle in Portal. Except in Hotline Miami there's more brain-stuff and skull chunks lying around afterward.
The same goes for Counter-Strike, StarCraft, and the rest. At their most basic levels, they're about repeating and mutating input patterns to solve variable, but not totally unpredictable, problems. The variables in Counter-Strike, for example, are the guns, maps, and opponents. That's been enough variety to keep us repetitively shooting at each other for 13 years.
Repetition can be pretty damn fun, so we've got to be specific, and always ask ourselves if it's really the repetition of a theme that bothers us, or the theme itself. I can shoot bad guys all day, so complaining that "the shooting is repetitive" in Medal of Honor: Warfighter would be confusing. Further examination would reveal that the guns, maps, and enemies have specific traits I don't like, which has nothing to do with repetition (except that the more I do them, the less I like them).
Fearing the dreaded "repetitiveness" may even be bad for games: that's probably how we end up with off-key phrases at pivotal moments, like a boss fight which takes away the gun I've been using the whole time and sticks me in a surprise platformer. It's variety, but it screws up the whole composition. A performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, for example, would not benefit from an unexpected dubstep interlude. No, I wasn't talking to you, Skrillex. Are you drunk? Go home, dude.
Anyway, if at first glance this looks like an ostentatious rant about a personal pet-peeve, then you may have seen correctly. But maybe not: try Googling any game name with the phrase "too repetitive." It's everywhere. I get what's meant by it (sort of, kind of, some of the time), but it says very little. It may not even be a criticism, because games like Hotline Miami wouldn't be fun without repetition. If dying and respawning didn't reset the level, and our prior kills stayed bloodied, it would be ruined. Maybe then we'd say that it's not repetitive enough?
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Smith)
Hotline Miami now allows players to throttle their flatmates with controller cords. Either that or it’s actually possible to play the game with a controller but that seems unlikely. That’s not the only fix/addition that the update brings and there’s also a native Mac version in the works. Important additions: new environmental graphics, a bonus stage unlocked when the campaign is finished, “more gore with the Jones mask” and “the pot of boiling water has been updated”. We should compile a ‘patch note of the year’ list just so that the pot of boiling water can win some sort of trophy. The update should already be live on Steam.
Oct 29, 2012
I could write lots and lots of words about the super-cool, super-violent new PC game Hotline Miami. In fact, I've already kinda done that.
The game is: Awesome. You should: Play it. But if you're still unsure what it's all about, check out this playthrough of the first level, uploaded by JereHakala. This guy/gal is waaaay better at the game than I am, but that makes it pretty fun to watch just how quickly and crazily a level can go down.
Also, go listen to the whole soundtrack, because it is killer.
Oct 29, 2012
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Alec Meer)
Part of me objects to the very concept of expanding Hotline Miami – “IT IS A PURE AND PERFECT SHINING DIAMOND OF FLOW, CONTROL, MOOD AND BRUTALITY LEAVE IT ALONE” – but most of me just wants to play some more Hotline Miami. Devs Dennaton have quietly revealed that DLC for the game of fluid murder is in the works, as well as ongoing patching for the buggy old dear, proper joypad* support and more “secret” things. (more…)
Earlier this week, Hotline Miami released and very quickly became the indie flavor of the minute. Then the story emerged that the game's maker went into the forums at The Pirate Bay, home of, well, pirates, and provided technical support to people who were, technically, stealing the game.
Naturally, Jonatan Soderstrom reaped some goodwill for this stance. It's an extremely sympathetic position in which to find yourself, large-size developer or small. For starters, you haven't done anything wrong, someone is taking your hard work and refusing to pay for it. Two, you get major props from pirate sympathizers, some of whom may actually act on the principle of paying for a game if they play a pirated version and like it. Three, you're not punishing the anti-piracy contingent, who may loathe the practice, but loathe DRM even more.
Soderstrom is by no means the first one to discover this. McPixel's creator was the latest high profile case of a developer embracing piracy and picking up an enormous PR boost for it—and even more: sales from the pirates themselves. After McPixel showed up on The Pirate Bay, Mikolaj 'Sos' Kaminski said "no biggie," on Reddit, expanded on that with some enlightened views of piracy, and tossed in some free codes for the game. The Pirate Bay responded by, wait for it, holding an event where they asked people to actually pay money for a video game (after downloading the full version anyway). [Update: Here's another example, from the creator of Mark of the Ninja, in an interview on Thursday.]
It's an almost unassailable position to be in (and, argumentatively, shows the power of not considering yourself a victim). Gamers love it because, technically, they're sacrificing sales not to inconvenience legitimate customers. Pirates love it because they don't consider it a lost sale. I'm not sure big publishers or their lobbyists love it, but anyone who comes out to rip an indie developer over his policies on his own product is going to look like a corporate dick of the first magnitude.
So what do you think? Is this an effective strategy for all? An effective strategy for some? Is it Stockholm Syndrome with digital hostages? In the past, the cynic in me would dismiss it as a shrewd PR move. (Though Gabe Newell at Valve proffered a compelling argument about why it's a service issue.)
Whether this policy of engagement actually works on its own is one issue. But I think it's clear it works better than DRM. If you can find anyone applauding that, let me know. But the contrast is clear; instead of trying to recover a lost sale, they're trying to make up for it with new ones, and keep legitimate customers happy.